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5 Ways Bosses Can Effectively Show Employees Appreciation

In an age where culture is a hugely popular and significant metric to measure team harmony and employee engagement, you can’t afford to ignore your team.

We’ve all had a bad day at work every now and then, but in an age where the jobs market is incredibly competitive and getting job offers is ever easier with platforms such as LinkedIn allowing recruiters to entice even the most loyal employee, your company must pay attention to its employee engagement levels.

  • 59% of employees would be willing to leave their current job if a more appealing offer came their way, even though they aren’t actively looking for another job (West Monroe)

Although as an employer or manager you can’t necessarily give everything your employee is asking for, you can consider small changes to policy or acts of recognition to boost your workforce’s engagement.

  • 12% of businesses are happy with current levels of employee engagement (CBI)

There is also increasing evidence that the type of culture you build at your workplace can have a huge impact on attracting and retaining high-quality, loyal employees, with research suggesting people are willing to accept lower pay for a better benefits package or work/life balance.

  • 81% of employees who can easily access their benefits said they feel loyal to their employer and 79% say they were proud to work for their organization (Thomsons Online Benefits)
  • 80% of workers would keep a job with benefits rather than take one that offered more pay and no benefits (American Institute of CPA)
  • More than 60% of employees would take a job with a lower salary for better benefits (Zenefits)
  • More than 80% of millennials say they seriously consider how a position will affect their work-life balance, 62% of older workers agreed (Flexjobs)

So how can an SME boost employee engagement and build a workplace culture that encourages employee loyalty…?

1. Health

  • 83% of employees say health insurance is very or extremely important in deciding whether to stay in or change jobs (EBRI)
  • 55% of workers who feel their employer cares about their well-being want to stay at their company for 10 years or more vs. 33% who don’t believe their company cares (Guardian)
  • 57% of people say that if their employer proactively supported their mental wellbeing, it would help them to feel more loyal, be more productive and take less time off work (Health Shield)

Implementing a healthcare plan or package can do wonders for employee motivation, particularly when it also focuses on employee wellbeing and mental health. 

Healthcare plans vary greatly depending on the provider and your company size, as well as the premium you wish to pay, but it can be a #1 factor in an employee's attitude towards staying with you or moving to another employer. 

2. Training

  • Businesses with a strong learning culture enjoy employee engagement and retention rates around 30-50% higher than those that don’t (Robert Half)
  • Offering career training and development would keep 86% of millennials from leaving their current position (Bridge)
  • 51% of employees would quit their job if the training was not offered (Udemy)

Millennials, in particular, appreciate learning and development opportunities, but across the board, employees appreciate the opportunity to boost their on-the-job knowledge and capabilities. 

If you cannot offer off-site training or 1-to-1 learning and development opportunities, it may be worthwhile operating a book scheme, where employees are entitled to £X each month/quarter/annum to invest in books that will help with their personal development or capabilities. 

3. Flexibility

  • 69% of Gen Z said flexible hours (69%) are a valued employee benefit, along with free health care (23%) and the option to work remotely (18%) (Sharefile)
  • 40% of employees said that flexible/remote work options can lower workplace distractions, and 52% say they’re more productive when working remotely (Udemy)
  • 89% of employers said flexible working options are important when it comes to staff attraction and retention (Hays)

Flexibility can come in a variety of shapes and forms, from flexible hours to remote working, to increased annual leave allowance. 

This is often seen as the greatest factor in work/life balance and the ability to be flexible with working hours and annual leave is a major benefit across the generations. Employers also recognise where possible this can be a huge factor in boosting employee engagement, as well as being seen as a family-friendly employer. 

4. Rewards

  • Employees who feel their rewards meet their needs are seven times more likely to be engaged with work compared to employees who don’t feel that way (Alight Solutions)
  • Words of affirmation topped the list of reward preferences for both fully remote workers and onsite staff, followed by quality time (35% and 25%); acts of service (19% and 22%); tangible gifts (7% and 6%) (Motivating by Appreciation Inventory)
  • 43% of employees said annual leave is the work-related benefit that would make them feel most loved at work, followed by public recognition (15%), team drinks (15%), training (10%), professional mentoring (7%), sleeping in once a week (7%), and getting a parking space for a month (2%) (Xexec)

Actual 'perks' as such, can go some way to reward hard work and acknowledge the results of an individual/team/the whole workforce. Interestingly, some research suggests that positive words of affirmation and 1-to-1 positive feedback can be more appreciated than tangible gifts. 

Spend time reviewing how you measure and acknowledge hard work from your team, particularly if this is something that is a responsibility of mid-management. 

5. Ask

  • When asked what their top priority would be if they became boss, 27% of Gen Z said they would increase employee pay while 35% of Gen Z and 32% of Millennials said they were likely to share pay information with coworkers (Comparably)
  • More than 40% of employees from all generations said social exclusion at work makes them feel emotionally and physically isolated, stressed, angry and sad (EY)
  • 81% of employers that offer benefits agree that their company’s benefits increase employee satisfaction (Aflac)

Ask your team what they'd like to receive! The best way to do this is speaking to your team one-to-one in an open forum, explaining that although there are no guarantees that requests will be undertaken, they will be considered if they can offer suggestions with evidence or reasons. 

If you have a larger workforce you can distribute an on/offline survey, asking for suggestions, although you're more likely to get valuable feedback from direct conversations with individual employees/managers. 

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